InDesign CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Putting text on a path


InDesign CS5 Essential Training

with David Blatner

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Video: Putting text on a path

I get asked this question all the time, how do I put text on a path instead of inside of a path? It's not a foolish question, because InDesign does not make it obvious at all how to do that. But once you see how to do it, you'll find that it's not that difficult at all. First, I need a path, I'm just going to use an Ellipse tool here to drag out kind of a nice shape here, and why don't I use the Rotate widget up here, I'll change that's to 50, and drag this down into more or less position, just so I have a path that I'm going to put my text on.
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  1. 5m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. What is InDesign CS5?
      2m 26s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 51s
  2. 54m 49s
    1. Understanding the Application window
      6m 0s
    2. Navigating pages
      6m 39s
    3. Zooming and magnifying
      6m 57s
    4. Managing more than one document window
      3m 36s
    5. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 9s
    6. Positioning panels correctly
      6m 28s
    7. Saving time by making workspaces
      3m 24s
    8. Setting the view quality of artwork
      4m 9s
    9. Adjusting View and Preview settings
      4m 56s
    10. Rotating pages and spreads
      3m 2s
    11. Displaying a new view with the New Window feature
      3m 29s
    12. Setting application and document preferences
      4m 0s
  3. 21m 31s
    1. Using the Tool panel
      8m 1s
    2. Learning and editing keyboard shortcuts
      6m 24s
    3. Working with spring-loaded tool shortcuts
      1m 17s
    4. Using contextual menus
      2m 51s
    5. Choosing menu items with Quick Apply
      2m 58s
  4. 45m 25s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 28s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      3m 41s
    3. Using multiple Undo and Revert
      4m 28s
    4. Setting margin and column guides
      5m 16s
    5. Using ruler guides
      8m 10s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 29s
    7. Saving objects in libraries
      4m 49s
    8. Exporting and importing page snippets
      4m 29s
    9. Saving for CS4 with IDML
      2m 35s
  5. 31m 18s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      7m 23s
    2. Changing page size
      6m 14s
    3. Adding page numbering
      3m 43s
    4. Changing page numbering with sections
      5m 58s
    5. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 20s
    6. Overriding master page items
      2m 40s
  6. 1h 21m
    1. Understanding text frames
      4m 6s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 36s
    3. Filling with placeholder text
      2m 38s
    4. Inserting special characters
      4m 43s
    5. Importing text
      7m 49s
    6. Threading text frames
      4m 1s
    7. Setting text frame columns and insets
      6m 32s
    8. Setting vertical justification and first baseline position
      6m 9s
    9. Putting text on a path
      6m 51s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      8m 43s
    11. Checking spelling
      7m 42s
    12. Using Find/Change
      9m 25s
    13. Tracking text changes
      8m 1s
  7. 49m 50s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 11s
    2. Importing from Mini Bridge
      5m 27s
    3. Using the Links panel
      6m 34s
    4. Embedding links
      2m 37s
    5. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 14s
    6. Fitting graphics to a frame
      6m 12s
    7. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 53s
    8. Adding live captions
      5m 56s
    9. Colorizing images
      2m 1s
    10. Turning image layers on and off
      4m 45s
  8. 46m 15s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 32s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      8m 18s
    3. Using advanced strokes
      3m 28s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 38s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      6m 41s
    6. Applying feathering
      4m 25s
    7. Copying formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      4m 35s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 50s
    9. Making polygons and starbursts
      3m 48s
  9. 22m 56s
    1. Making interactive documents
      2m 6s
    2. Adding hyperlinks
      5m 52s
    3. Building bookmarks
      3m 38s
    4. Creating buttons
      8m 57s
    5. Animating an object
      2m 23s
  10. 23m 15s
    1. Creating color swatches
      5m 52s
    2. The danger and power of unnamed colors
      4m 33s
    3. Building tint swatches
      2m 18s
    4. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 56s
    5. Applying gradients
      6m 36s
  11. 50m 0s
    1. Positioning objects with the Page Gap tool
      2m 53s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 13s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      3m 53s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 37s
    5. Nesting objects
      2m 46s
    6. Editing frame and path shapes
      4m 6s
    7. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      3m 57s
    8. Grouping objects
      3m 14s
    9. Locking objects
      2m 39s
    10. Aligning and distributing
      5m 43s
    11. Understanding text wrap
      8m 13s
    12. Using anchored objects
      6m 46s
  12. 18m 49s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 39s
    2. Rotating objects
      3m 3s
    3. Scaling objects
      3m 57s
    4. Mirroring objects
      3m 46s
    5. Using the Transform Again feature
      2m 24s
  13. 25m 52s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 8s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 54s
    3. Changing case
      2m 51s
    4. Understanding OpenType features
      3m 19s
    5. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      3m 18s
    6. Using Find Font
      4m 22s
  14. 45m 27s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 14s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      3m 5s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      2m 1s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 16s
    5. Adjusting text hyphenation
      3m 21s
    6. Fine-tuning justified text
      4m 19s
    7. Setting tabs
      5m 54s
    8. Aligning to a baseline grid
      4m 24s
    9. Controlling orphans and widows with Keep Options
      2m 39s
    10. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 14s
    11. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 39s
    12. Working with numbered lists
      4m 21s
  15. 31m 3s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 34s
    2. Using character styles
      5m 43s
    3. Applying styles automatically with Nested Styles
      7m 19s
    4. Using object styles
      3m 27s
    5. Using Quick Apply with styles
      2m 49s
    6. Cleaning up a local formatting mess
      5m 11s
  16. 37m 0s
    1. Creating a table
      5m 54s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      6m 35s
    3. Formatting a table
      8m 5s
    4. Adding headers and footers
      1m 58s
    5. Applying table styles
      5m 32s
    6. Adding Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 56s
  17. 10m 14s
    1. Checking your document with the Preflight panel
      2m 54s
    2. Creating a custom preflight profile
      4m 45s
    3. Checking color with the Separations Preview
      2m 35s
  18. 31m 6s
    1. Packaging for output
      4m 12s
    2. Using the Print dialog box
      10m 22s
    3. Exporting a PDF
      8m 47s
    4. Exporting an interactive PDF
      3m 59s
    5. Exporting text
      1m 36s
    6. Exporting SWF files
      2m 10s
  19. 1m 32s
    1. Finding more information and help
      1m 12s
    2. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign CS5 Essential Training
10h 33m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, the print and interactive page layout application from Adobe, in InDesign CS5 Essential Training. The course shows how to create new documents with strong and flexible master pages, precisely position text and graphics, prepare documents for print, and export designs as interactive PDF or Flash SWF files. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Navigating and customizing the workspace
  • Managing documents and pages
  • Rotating pages and spreads
  • Adjusting and mixing page sizes
  • Overriding master page items
  • Putting text on a path
  • Threading text frames
  • Applying strokes, fills, and other formatting effects
  • Nesting, grouping, and locking objects
  • Formatting: character-level and paragraph-level
  • Packaging, printing, and exporting
David Blatner

Putting text on a path

I get asked this question all the time, how do I put text on a path instead of inside of a path? It's not a foolish question, because InDesign does not make it obvious at all how to do that. But once you see how to do it, you'll find that it's not that difficult at all. First, I need a path, I'm just going to use an Ellipse tool here to drag out kind of a nice shape here, and why don't I use the Rotate widget up here, I'll change that's to 50, and drag this down into more or less position, just so I have a path that I'm going to put my text on.

Now if I choose the Type tool and place the cursor over the edge of this Ellipse, it might look like if I click, I might be putting some text on the side there but in fact that's not the case. If I'd click and start typing, you'll see that the text goes into the frame, not on it, so that's not what I want. So I'm going to undo with Command+Z or Ctrl+Z a couple of times. And I'm going to show you that instead you should use not the Type tool at all, but click-and-hold it just for a moment, and you see there is a whole separate tool called the Type on a Path tool. You can get to that by pressing Shift+T, when you're not editing text.

So now that I have the Type on a Path tool, I can place that near the edge, and I'll see the cursor changed to a little Plus Sign there. That's the indicator that it's safe to click, and now that I've clicked, I can start typing. I'll just type a little bit of text here, and I need to format that text. It's little bit too hard to read. So, I'm going to go to the Window menu, choose from the Styles sub-menu, and choose Paragraph Styles. I have a Paragraph Style all set up here that I can click on called Blue Type on a Path, there we go.

It's just is a nice fast way of formatting text quickly. I'll be covering Styles in a later chapter, but for now that was such a fast way to get the formatting I needed. I'll go ahead, and close that panel and show you more stuff about Type on a Path. So you see the text is going on the path just the way we want, but maybe it's not in exactly the right position. How do I move it back-and-forth on that path? Well, for that I need the Selection tool, so, I'm going to press the Escape key as such a little shortcut to jump back to the Selection tool, and I'm going to zoom in on this a little bit with the Command+Plus, or Ctrl+Plus on Windows, just to see the details of this more closely.

Now, this is a very confusing part about Text on a Path. You see how, there is this weird shape thing with two little squares, and some vertical lines, and so on. Well, here is what's going on? Type on a Path should be treated just like a text frame, which has been wrapped around the path that fits one paragraph. That's what's going on here. It starts at this point where I clicked, and it's wrapping all the way around the path, and it ends here. In any text frame as you know has an inport and then outport for doing threading.

That's what's going on here. The vertical lines are the edges of that frame as it were, and those little white boxes are the inport and outport. Now I can actually drag those lines, if I'm careful. You really have to be careful to look at the cursor. Right now what I'm seeing0-- if you really squint, you'll see this. I'm seeing a cursor with a little tiny line and a left-arrow, and that indicates that if I drag, I'm going to be dragging the left line over. See how that worked? I can do the same thing on this line as well.

Now I see a cursor with a little tiny itsy bitsy right-arrow next to it, and if I drag that, I'm dragging the left edge of my text there. So I can move it back-and-forth along my path by dragging that left edge. I'm going to go ahead and drag this side, the edge of that all the way over to the right here, and you can see that I can even drag it all the way over until the text won't fit inside that path anymore, and I get a little Plus Sign overset mark just like a text frame. And in fact, Text on a Path acts just like a text frame, so I can thread it from one frame to another, or one line to another, I'll show you how to do that? Use the Selection tool to click on the outport, and then come over here and click on this new path, and you'll see that now the text is threaded from this path to this path, and that's pretty cool.

Once I do that, I can adjust that text of course by dragging the endpoints, so I can put more text on this side, and less on this, and so on. I didn't get my extra space in there, so I'm going to double-click with the Selection tool to switch the Type tool temporarily, press Space just so I can fix that, good. Hit Escape to go back to adjusting the object itself, and I'll zoom out to see how it looks with the Command+Minus or Ctrl+Minus on Windows hitting that a few times until I could see more of the page. So that's pretty darn cool, but there is actually one more thing about Text on a Path that I want to point out to you.

I'm going to actually select both of those objects, I just Shift+Clicked over on this Text on a Path as well, so we can see both of those. Now I'll zoom back in, so I can see the text more clearly. Now, I'm going to go to the Type menu, and scroll-down to the Type on a Path sub-menu, and there is a couple of things I need to point out, one is I can delete the Type from the Path, this is how you turn something that has Text on a Path into just Paths. I just selected that, so the text just goes thrown away. That's not actually what I wanted to do, but I wanted to show you that you can do it. Let me undo that, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z on Windows, and instead I'm going to go to Type on a Path > Options, we can move this out of the way.

This is where the power is for really fine-tuning the text on that path. For example, I can turn on the Flip checkbox, and because the Preview checkbox is turned on, I see it take effect immediately. The Type actually flipped over to the inside of the path, instead of the outside of the path. So that's one option, we turn that off. Another thing I can control is what part of the text is going to align to the path. Right now, I'm aligning the Baseline of the text to the path, but I could change this to something else, for example, the Center of the text. And now the Center of the text is aligned along the path.

So, that can give you a slightly different effect. And then if you want to have some fun with this text, try changing the effect. Right now, this is set to Rainbow, which means the text will move along the path like the colors will move along the Rainbow, but if you change this to something completely different like Skew, you get all kinds of wacky effects. This is probably not what we want but it's interesting to play around with these effects to get a sense of what kinds of cool things you can do with Text on a Path. 3D Ribbon makes the text kind of skew and rotate so on around the path. Stair Step is kind of interesting for some effects.

Gravity makes everything kind of warped into the center of gravity, each object has it's own center of gravity which is the center point of the frame itself, and all the text is being sort of pulled into that center of gravity, but you know ultimately all of those are cool, but generally you're just going to be using Rainbow, so that's the one that I'm going to stick with right now, and I'll click OK. So, setting text along a path is a wonderful way to create all kinds of special effects on your page. As we saw, you can even edit that text later, but editing along a path can be well challenging.

Fortunately, that's where InDesign Story Editor comes to the rescue.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: In the “Exporting to PDF” video, the author states "The flattener, and how to control it, is an advanced topic that I cover in a later title."
Is this “later title” available on yet?
A: Unfortunately that title is still in development. However, the features are exactly the same in CS4, so please see Chapter 11 in InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics.
Q: Can an image be placed into a cell in InDesign?
A: Yes,  but only as an anchored (inline) object. Cut the frame with the Selection tool, switch to the Type tool, click in the cell, and Paste.
Q: Is it possible to load or import pages from one document to another in InDesign CS5?
A: Pages cannot be “loaded”, but they can be "pushed" from one document to another by choosing Layout > Pages > Move Pages.
Q: When I place an image, it is distorted or pixilated to the point of not being able to use it. I can place or open those same images in Photoshop or Illustrator and they are fine.
A: You are likely seeing the low-resolution preview. To see high resolution or vector artwork, choose View > Display Performance > High Quality.
Q: When I place an image, it is distorted or pixilated to the point of not being able to use it. I can place or open those same images in Photoshop or Illustrator and they are fine.
A: You are likely seeing the low-resolution preview. To see high resolution or vector artwork, choose View > Display Performance > High Quality.
Q: I'm looking for a tutorial that will allow me to use InDesign to create files that can be emailed. I guess they have to be converted to HTML first? Is that possible?
A: If you are trying to make an HTML email, then InDesign really isn't the tool for you. It's HTML abilities are extremely limited. Look toward Dreamweaver for that. Alternatively, you could create a layout in InDesign, then export the page as a JPEG image and put that in the email.
Q: Since I upgraded to the new version of InDesign, when I click the "edit original" button in the Links panel, the pictures open in Preview instead of Photoshop
A: "Here are two articles about this problem: 
Q: I cannot see files on the desktop when in InDesign.
A: If you are using the Mac OS, you may need to turn off Window > Application Frame in order to see files behind InDesign (such as those on the Finder Desktop). If you are on Windows, you are seeing a difference between Mac and Windows. In Windows, the application is always living inside the application frame. If you un-maximize the windows frame, you can drag it smaller so you see the desktop and drag to or from it.
Q: I am currently working on an InDesign document originally created in Spanish. I am translating it to English and I need to change the language preference to be able to use the spell check in English. I have changed it in Preferences, but when I go to do the spell check on the document it is still in Spanish. How can I change the spell check to English?
A: Changing the language in preferences does not change the document or text language. You need to change the langauge in the paragraph style or the character style or in the Character panel or the Control panel (select the text first).
Q: In the movie, "Inserting, deleting, and moving pages" the author claims you can Shift-click text and the red overset symbol (a plus sign) will disappear. This isn't working for me.
A: Shift-clicking to make text automatically flow to the next text box or boxes only works when you place text from a loaded cursor. Shift-clicking existing text will not affect it.
Instead, if the overset text symbol appears in an existing text frame, choose the Selection tool and click the symbol to load the text in your cursor. Then Shift-click inside the next text frame to start it auto-flowing from there.
Q: I want to add a 2-page spread following a 1-page spread, but when I insert two new pages, InDesign creates a 3-page spread. How do I solve this?
A: If you're seeing 3-page spreads, turn on Allow Document Pages to Shuffle (and Allow Selected Spread to Shuffle) from the Pages panel menu.
Q: The keys used for navigating to the previous or next spread in a layout (Command+Page Up/Command+Page Down) don't appear on my laptop keyboard and the arrow keys don't work. What keys should I use?
A: Most laptop keyboards don't have these keys anymore. Look for a "modifier" key (such as the Alt or Fn keys) to press to access these keys. For example, on a Macbook Pro, you'd press Command and then Fn+Up Arrow to invoke Next Spread.
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